Established by Czech distiller, Albín Hill, the Hill's distillery is now run by Albín's son, Radomil. Using his father's original recipe, and his own renowned distilling skills, Radomil has built the company into the world's leading producer of Bohemian absinth. It has been a remarkable achievement after the business was destroyed under communist rule.
Hill's Liquere was set up in 1920. Based in the small Czech town of Brusperk, producing Radigast, Borovicka, rum and, using Albín Hill's own recipe, absinth. Almost no labels or documents have survived that prove the existence of Hill's Absinth during the 1930s, but the spirit still exists in the memories of the old locals, and there are a few references in Czech literature of the period.
In fact, the drink was extremely popular, and in the 1940s the company had to open a second plant in Valasské Mezirící. Rationing during the Second World War was based on the volume of liquid, rather than the strength of alcohol and it wasn't long before people realized that to multiply the effect of rationing, they could buy Hill's Absinth and simply water it down.
But the firm's success was shortlived. After the war the new communist regime confiscated the distillery and by 1948 official production had ceased. Almost everything was stolen or destroyed by the authorities, including equipment, cars and the Hill family's personal property. Fortunately, Radomil Hill memorised his father's recipes and saved a book of other original recipes from that period.
Between 1948 and 1990 Absinth was not officially produced. Radomil applied his skills working in state-owned distilleries and liqueur companies, but he never used or divulged his own recipes.
It was only after the 'Velvet Revolution' of 1989, and the country's embrace of free enterprise, that Radomil started to rebuild the family business. The old distillery was in a terrible condition, and in 1992 a new plant was acquired in the small south Bohemian town of Jindrichuv Hradec. This is now the official registered office of Hill's Liquere.
Today's Hill's Absinth is very close in taste to the traditional Bohemian drink that was produced by Albín Hill. It does not taste or smell of aniseed as much as French or Swiss varieties. Taste habits in Bohemia have always meant that less anise is used in the drink's production, and explains why Hill's Absinth does not turn milky (louche) when water is added.
Whereas the heavy aniseed flavour of lesser brands is too overpowering for use in cocktails, Hill's Absinth has a refined subtlety, whose distinctive flavour is a mixologists dream.